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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  July 31, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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. >> rose: welcome to the program, we begin this evening with a conversation about the way out of afghanistan with stephen hadley, former national security advisor to president bush 43, and john podesta, former chief of staff for president clinton. >> one of the things we have to figure out who is he is and ryan crocker said something very interesting which i think most members of our group would agree, if there is some kind of reconciliation with the taliban, this is not going to be a peace conference around a table, the taliban is a very fragmented group. >> rose: right. we continue the conversation about afghanistan with rajiv chandrasekaran, author of little america, the war within the war
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for afghanistan. >> for president karzai he sees the principal problem is infiltration of militants of insurgents from pakistan to afghanistan, that is a main problem but many afghans at the local level cast their lot with the taliban because karzai's government is so corrupt and rapacious and abuse people and shake them down for bribes and so u.s. commanders and u.s. diplomats rightly s saw they had to fix the government to move forward here. >> rose: a conversation about the future of afghanistan when we continue. funding for charlie rose was provided by the following.
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>> rose: additional funding provided by these funders. and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: the drawdown in afghanistan is gathering pace as
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nato troops plan to shift from a combat role to a supporting role by 2014, the question is, what comes next? joining me now, stephen hadley, who serves as national security advisor for george w. bush and john podesta, bill clinton's chief of staff from 1998 until 2001, and 2011, they chaired a bipartisan committee to review policy towards afghanistan and pakista they have published their findings as an essay in foreign affairs magazine, under the title the right way out of afghanistan, i am pleased to have them both at this table. welcome. >> good to have you here. this is important work. so tell me what your marching orders were to yourself, how you wanted to accomplish that objective. >> well, we wanted to have a broad gauge group of people to help in this effort, republicans and democrats, left, right and center and we did. and secondly we said, this is just going to be a internal,
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and it is an effort to get some new ideas to the administration, but mostly, it was to focus on the political strategy, to the military strategy pretty well developed, the political strategy, not so well developed and that was what the opportunity we thought we could do to do some thinking among this group and come up with some ideas on that. >> rose: so what ideas -- >> it was probably important to try to model some bipartisan behavior in washington -- >> rose: just a little. >> a little of it. but, no, i think we had a very broad spectrum of views, and i think one of the things we focused on right from the start of this working group was that the security transition was well thought through and there was a lot of time being spent on it by the administration, but the political transition which needs to attend, go along with that, president karzai is term limited. >> 2014, the ability to hand off
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to a functioning afghan government in that context needed still more development, so we really focused this, steve noted, on the synchronizing, the security transition with the the diplomatic political and financial transition that needs to go on in afghanistan, we provided the administration with a lot of -- with a lot of ideas from that. i think some they have taken and implemented and, you know, some they disagreed with, but i think that focus on that need for emphasis on that new government is really critical. >> rose: looking back, why hasn't it happened? why have we not seen more focus on the political? >> well, i think we have from time to time, there certainly was a lot of focus on the political before the 2009 election, you know, with karzai, was karzai our candidate? was he not? and the 2009 presidential and parliamentary
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elections were really not the model of what we would hope and one of the things this we say in this piece is it is very important that the presidential election in 2014 and the parliamentary election in 2015 be very different. be very inclusive, broad participation, free and fair, so that the governments that come out of those elections are legitimate and have more support among the american people. >> rose: wasn't there some aspiration for that in 2009? >> there was aspiration, but not enough preparation and implementation and one of the things we say in this report, very strongly is, there are things we need to do to ensure a free and fa election in 2014, 2015 and we need to start them now, we need to solve this issue about voter less, which are not in good shape we need to establish now the afghans need to establish now [voter lists] the electoral institutions, the election complaint commission, the election commission will be truly independent. we have got to have a political party law so people can organize and have a spectrum of choice
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for the afghan people. so the bottom line of this piece is there are things that need to be done and we need to start now. there had been so much focus in 2011 about the difficult process within the administration of getting to the military strategy, i think people just didn't focus enough about this fact, in 2014 when we are supposed to make a security transition, there is going to be an election, and if that election results in a meltdown of the afghan government, where we are transferring primary security responsibility to a government that is in crisis, that is not the outcome we need. >> rose: my perception, tell me if i am wrong is that they have been so moved by the idea of believing in the idea that until they got the security part und control, they could not deal to the political part. >> well, that is inhibited progress. >> i think with when the review
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began under steve's leadership at the end of the bush administration and followed into the early days of obama administration, then the second review that led to the surge in troops, that was highly focused on the security deteriorating security situation. >> rose: because it was necessary, without it -- >> without it you couldn't do anything. >> rose: right. >> so i think the president made the decision to put additional troops in early in 2009 and then to surge troops in later to try to create the conditions where the ability to train the afghan security force was -- had that potential and that you could move on to these things. simultaneously, there was an effort to build in additional resources on the diplomatic side, more of a surge, if you will, on civilian side, some of that, i think, has been questioned, but i think there is no -- there is no question and that right now we have got to
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get these things synchronized we have to build up the governing capacity of the afghanistan government. you know, it is not going to be perfect, it is not going to be pretty but there are things we can do and still have influence, ryan crocker negotiated and the president signed with president karzai. >> rose: right. >> a strategic partnership agreement, we had the meeting in tokyo where mutual accountability was the, you know, the word of the day, karzai followed through on some of that and still have influence but we don't use it now early, then i think we -- the capacity of the afghan government to function in that reduced environment where nato troops really come out i think will be, you know, highly -- i am highly skeptical it can work. >> to administration's credit when we came to them and said, look, we are thinking about this effort, would it be useful to you? they basically said, look, we have been focused on the security, our political strategy
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is underdeveloped we would welcome what you are doing and they have -- they have given us time and they have heard the recommendations of our group. so i don' i don't want you to tk that this was sort of something imposed on the administration,. >> rose: i remind you there are books being written today that suggest that richard holbrook, the principal proponent of a more political solution was not heard within the counsel of this administration. >> well, there was clearly tension between the white house and the ambassador holbrook, i think at the end of the day. >> rose: between the president and ambassador holbrook. >> you know -- you hear stories. i have my way of talking, but there was clearly -- >> rose: some candor -- >> you know, i think there was tension there, and i think that i am a great admirer of his. i think he was one of the greatest diplomats that we have had in service, you know, in
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generations. secretary backed him up and he stayed in office, but clearly, they had some different ideas, i think it really goes back to something that steve said which is that the mind space was really on the security problem. >> rose: right. >> and so the white house focus was really on what did we need to do to get the security situation stabilized? what was the military strategy? and in the end of the day i think if you think about what richard was recommending to the president and to the secretary, that really has become what -- >> rose: what you are recommending. >> it is what we are recommending but it is also what the special ambassador mark grossman who is trying to implement, it is what secretary clinton is pursuing in afghanistan, it is what that tokyo meeting was all about, so i think in the end of the day, while, you know, tempers certainly flared i suppose and there was some -- i think really
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at the staff level more than at the president level but i think there was some personal friction, i think his recommendations were followed and now we have both a regional strategy and a strategy of reconciliation that he pushed from the beginning in 2009. >> rose: do you agree with that? >> i think one of the things that has -- that we identified early on in our work and it was no news to the administration was they needed t to -- they needed to field a team in kabul that was going to be more integrity grade in terms of the political and the diplomatic, and that would be able to rebuild the relationship with karzai, which was one of the casualties of all of this process you described and we were very encouraged when general john alan and ryan crocker were appointed and they in some sense reprieved the
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crocker petraeus role, mark grossman i think is a perfect person in terms of temperament and experience to do this. so one of the things we thought that they fixed early and we had focused on it and they focused on was to get a team that is going to have a more integrated political and military approach and one that is going to try to get it, if in the word of 18 mons ago a new start with karzai. >> rose: when we talk about a new start, beyond the governance on the part of the afghan people, you know, both in terms of security and on the civilian side, does it include negotiations now with the taliban? and what are the taliban prepared to negotiate about? >> well, the second part of that question i think is hard for either one of us to answer but i think they have some -- there clearly have been discussions. >> rose: at some level. >> they are pepared to talk to
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the united states. there is this kind of on again, off again attempt to try to build some confidence, but we recommended that you have to test the taliban, whether there are elements of the taliban that will enter the political process, and the conditions for that are well-known, that there should be discussion with elements -- >> rose: talking about their conditions or u.s. conditions? >> they have to respect the constitution and enter the political process, and break with al qaeda. >> rose: they are prepared to do that or not? is my question. >> do you have any indication that they are? aren't there some indications that they are prepared to say that? that in fact they find certain things on the other side, they are prepared to do that? >> the taliban -- >> rose: not whether they might say it yes and not do it later. >> i think one of the things we have to figure out who the he is
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and ryan crocker said something very interesting, which i think most members of our group would agree. if there is some kind of reconciliation with the taliban, this is not going to be a peace conference around a table. the taliban is a very fragmented group and when you have the insurgencies it is really the same strategy, you take those groups that are willing to come out of the surf yen situate and join the, insurgency and join the political process and find a way they can do that and those that are the irreconcilables you will have to deal with in another way. >> rose: and which dual ula omar is. >> i am not close enough to the intelligence quite frankly to know. i think what you see in the press is that there is a split. there are factions within the taliban and there is a bit of a split between the old leadership, the old guard, of which he is a part and some of the young turks who may be more aggressive, and these are all the problems mark grossman has to try to sort out. >> rose: because these are the
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kinds of things you hear and read about, some of the taliban may be prepared to negotiate, even an american presence continuing, i mean clearly they will not accept karzai's part of any kind of coalition and that is not something they want to see. >> i think one of the other things we emphasize is that this isn't just -- this is not a negotiation between the united states and the taliban, it has got to be afghan led and afghan inclusive, including the other elements in afghan society who have not taken up arms against the government, have to be part of the discussion. it can't be just between karzai and the taliban, it certainly can't be between the united states and the taliban. >> rose: it has to be everybody? >> it has to bring in all elements of afghan society to try to find a way forward and a path forward there is a high peace council that is now run by
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the son of the former president who was assassinated actually just after we visited him last -- i think he was assassinated in september, former president rabani, so there are some discussions between the pakastanis and the after want government about how to get this together, pakistan plays a very important role, maybe a spoiler role, but a very important role and i think we need to keep the pressure on to have them play a positive role in those discussions. so it is complicated but i just think we need to keep that diplomatic pressure on, be open to discussion and see if we can come up with a positive outcome. you can imagine that this issue of talking to the taliban was very controversial within our group, and what was interesting is that the way we got consensus from in broad group was that it was, yes, talk to the taliban, test them, test the pakastanis as to whether they would use
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their influence with the taliban to are some kind of reconciliation process, but do it in the context of two things. one, that it needs to be part of a broader political reconciliation within the society of a whole, for people that feel excluded because otherwise, if it is just a deal between the karzai government, the coalition and taliban, it is a prescription for civil war. >> rose: right. >> and secondly it needed to be in the context of a cmitme from the united states and the international community that we will be there after 2014, diplomatically, economically, and from a security presence, and that is what was so important about the strategic partnership agreement. so it was in that context that people said, okay, let's have the taliban but it has to be part of a broader societal reconciliation where it is clear we will be there after 2014 because otherwise, it is just going to be everybody will wait us out. >> rose: how important is pakistan?
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>> you know, it is tremendously important, and that is both a bilateral relationship and support for, you know, we are now in a match between the pakistan, u.s. government about whether they are doing enough to hit the pakastani taliban in afghanistan, which is kind of, which has kind of thraird up, but i think that they are not a part fehr that you would wish for, but they are the -- they are strategically where they are and we have to deal with that. >> rose: let me read from you today's new york times, fourth paragraph. even as united states begins a large scale troop withdrawal from afghanistan, the salerno attack, the attack that took place earlier, acknowledged terse official statements and others like it have cemented the a i can't any, haqqani network,
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officials from both officials say, the two countries are just getting back on track after months of grueling negotiations hat finally reold nato supply routes through pakistan, on and on and on, i mean, it seems to me that the haqqani network, can they be brought into this in any way or is that the responsibility of the isi and the pakastani government? >> well, one of the problems that -- one of the frustrations with pakistan is, you know, i think sometimes they think they are good terrorists and bad terrorists, and they are their terrorists and then there are others, and the truth is terrorists are terrorists and this is one of the things they found out in connection wth the as sags nation of benazir bhutto, those who were localized in the tribal area and the folks who were doing things in afghanistan, suddenly decided the way was open maybe they would go to islamabad so one of the messages to pakistan is, terrorists are terrorists, and
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we really have got to join in dealing with those efforts. secondly, one of the things we recommend is, you need to have a road map for approaching the taliban, and it needs to be developed with americans, afghans and pakastanis and you have to decide who the various factions are, how best to approach them, who is the best to approach them, the u.s., afghan, pakistan and what is the order? because haqqani is one of i think the candidates for those irrelevant reconcilables and you probably need to approach them in a reconciliation last not first. >> rose: where did things go wrong in afghanistan? some suggest that you had to have the response, after 9/11, to where al qaeda was, and they were in afghanistan, and that was essential and thatas the administration you served. >> right. >> rose:. >> they also suggest that when your focus shifted to iraq we lost the momentum in afghanistan and that was the beginning of the trouble. >> it didn't feel like that to
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us on the inside. and the narrative i would give you and this is a longer conversation, is we thought that until 2005, we were doing pretty well. there was some increase in the violence, but we thought in terms of the governance process, we thought we were doing -- >> rose: two years after the iraqi invasion? >> right. what happened in 2006, seven, and eight is partly some of the problems with the karzai administration, the noninclusiveness and the presidential palace centric government became more evident, but what really happened was pakistan, and remember president musharraf tries to do a deal with groups in the tribal areas, and it doesn't work, and rather than having the rbis in the tribal areas exclude al qaeda and those folks doing things in afghan, afghanistan it becomes a safe havennd just at the point when president musharraf realizes it is not going to work and send back in the army he has
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his problem the chief justice, and pakistan descends into 18 months of political crisis, the killing of benazir bhutto at the end of the day mush rush musharraf leads at the end of 2008 and pakistan is focusing internally not on the tribal areas and secretary gates said at one point it became a four-lane highway from the tribal areas of pakistan into afghanistan. so i think it was a combination of some problems that emerged that we probably should have anticipated with the elf lucian of the karzai administration but a lot of it was the problem in pakistan. this is where the bipartisanship breaks down. >> rose: let's hear it. >> look, i think that .. you know, it comes as no big shock i think the invasion of iraq was a strategic mistake and i think it meant -- and i take what steve had to say but i think we did
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shift focus, we did underresource the mission in afghanistan, and i think we found ourselves then having to play some ketchup. starting in the bush administration, 2008 but then into 2009. >> rose: so bob gates, former secretary of defense who you served with and secretary of defense in the obama administration as well, first year, has said we need to think long and hard before we get involved in any kind of boots on the ground attack in that region of the world for lots of reasons. you is ryan crocker saying we should never do this unless we understand the cultural and political environment we are going into. they are both -- >> that is what was said. >> rose: that's the point. >> and, look, i would say this, look, afghanistan, the united states was attacked from a plot happened in afghanistan. >> rose: yes.
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so everybody understands that. >> so when you get attack you may find yourself in a war you did not -- >> rose: understand we may not have a choice because we may be attacked from that region and that's one of the reasons we were in afghanistan to make sure that al qaeda was not operating in a failed state. >> correct. second, and i will just -- two more quick points. second, iraq i would say it was not a war of choice, it was a war of last resort, we, after 12 years we exhausted a lot of other options and the challenge for whoever is going to be president in january of 2,013 is, are we in the same trajectory with iran, and the third thing i would say is, i think mostly we won't have to do that, yes, there is a terrorism problem in somia and yemen and places like this, but we have a different formula which is tried to support local governments, share intelligence, strengthen local security forces, use special forces and other things to deal with the terrorists. i would hope we would not have to do something like that like we did in afghanistan and still manage the terrorism problem.
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>> rose: okay. but there is also this. some look at what you hope might be the outcome in iraq, that you would have a state there that would be a different kind of state, if saddam hussein was gone that was because, was served there on the board of iran in a central geographic location that had oils and all kinds of things and now people look at iraq and say, uno the relationship with iran is much -- is be going develop like our worst expectations? >> and that iraq has not turned out to be what we homed it to be. >> i will give you. >> why did we go into iraq? it was not to bring democracy at the point of a gun, it was because iraq was supporting terror, we thought it was pursuing wmd, it instrayeded its neighbor and oppressed its people. this is the iraqi people doing that today? no. >> rose: but other than your administration have argued you could not have done that if you didn't have the argument of the weapons of mass destruction, you would have had no public argument. >> i think it would have been very difficult. >> rose: right. >> second we want an iraq that
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can sustain i itself and defend itself and an ally on the war of terror, box checked, this is an iraq that is governing itself,s t is increasing oil production and a revenue stream and defending itself and internally and externally without a u.s. presence and fine think while it is imperfect, it is a government where sunni, think items and kurds are, shiites are and kurds are working together, uncomfortably t to build a futu, we feel that iraqi nationalism will trump shiiteism. >> it is not perfect. >> rose: is it trending that way now? >> i think -- i think one of the problems with iraq is syria, and the sectarian nature of the violence in syria is putting a lot of pressure on iraq and putting a lot of pressure on lebanon, so i think we are in a difficult transition period but i would say it is not perfect, but if you looked at where iraq was in 2005, it is a lot better
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than any of us anticipated in 2005. >> rose: okay. speak to that but also i am using this book and this article to move beyond this article and this book because it has to do both with the historical lessons of america's presence in the region and future presence in the region and future relationships in the region. >> right. well obviously i see iraq differently. particularly. >> rose: in terms of the way it turned out and whether it was worth the risk. >> rose: and the toll and the price. >> right. we are all happy saddam hussein is gone. but i think that it cost enormous amounts of blood and treasure for united states and i think it weakened the strategic position industries a advice iran, i think that has turned around to some extent now but i think that the initial decision to carry out that invasion i think based on the evidence that we had was thin, and a mistake. and i think that doesn't answer every next question, for
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example, the decision to support the nato led mission in liberty, i can't i think was the correct one, to use force where you had a government that was clearly about to engage in tremendous attacks on civilian population in libya, you know, that is a work in progress, we will see if that works out, so i don't think you can -- i think you have to take these decisions one at a time, what do they mean strategically? can you accomplish the mission? can you prevent the loss of civilian life? and there is a kind -- there is a growing sense that with -- there is international legitimacy to try to protect civilian populations and i think we have seen that playing out as we escalate our involvement in syria. >> rose: was the lesson of libya lead from behind? is that
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a new -- >> hook, i think that, you know, when you look at what ended up happening i think the united states, the nato missed couldn't have been accomplished without serious u.s. leadership. >> rose: at the beginning, especially? >> particularly at the beginning. >> rose: right. >> both u.s. support for the mission itself and u.s. capability at the beginning, and i think it was an intelligent judgment to do what we needed to do to make that successful and to do no more. and one thing that needs to be said, look, iraq did cost too much. >> rose: right. >> in terms of american lives, in terms of our resources in terms of iraqi civilian loss. >> rose: you guys help me understand syria and where we ar andhat the consequences might be and what worries you about the possibility of assad having something very dramatically different and a whole bunch of people including al qaeda get involved. >> well, i think al qaeda is groak there. >> rose: exactly. >> and i think that what -- this
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insurgency if you there is morphing and becoming more sectarian, i think, and the capacity of outside support, even, to kind of steer events there, i think, is, we have to be humble at that but i think what -- the trajectory, i think, is clear with respect to assad, but i think that timing is not clear, and the longer this takes the more this is taking on a sectarian character. >> i agree with john. you have to admire the courage of the syrian people, as sad, does need to go, but he needs to go soon, because the longer this goes, the more sectary it is going to be, the more the pressure, it precious lebanon and -- >> rose: do we have russia to make that happen or can iran make that ham? >> we don't have it. >> >> rose: it is a casualty of our relationship with iran. >> we don't have it, we don't need it.
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we need to be doing more and there is more we can do and should do to accelerate this process and help. >> rose: that is subject for another day. foreign affairs, the article is called the right way to leave afghanistan, stephen hadley and john podesta, thank you both. >> thank you, charlie. >> thank you, charlie. >> rose: back in a moment. stay with us. rajiv chandrasekaran is here. he is the national editor of the washington post. before that he served as a baghdad bureau chief and also reported frequently from afghanistan. his latest book is called little america, the war within the war for afghanistan his previous book was called imperial life in the emerald city, inside "iraq's green zone i am pleased to have him here to talk about the war in afghanistan and the future of that country. welcome. >> great to be here. >> rose: great to see you. so afghanistan, where -- you just heard two people talk about afghanistan as part of a sdy they did at the council of foreign relations, where do you think we are today before we
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talk about what were the missed opportunities and what were the failures and what were with the mistakes? >> well i thought steve hadley and john podesta wrote a very mart arm in foreign affairs, i am a little more pessimistic than they are, particularly with regard to achieving the key points they set out. and the area i am most pessimistic in is the development of a political process in afghanistan that will get us to free and fair elections in 2014, i still think there is a good chance that president hamid karzai will seek to find ways, if not to stay in office, to try to manipulate the system, i just don't see him exiting stage right very quietly. and becoming some sort of father of the nation type figure. and so i think that we have a period of messy politics ahead. and there hasn't been enough development of political alternatives to him in a country that is rich, i are venue wit
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ethnic disputes and warlordism and insurgency as we know so well .. there need to be unifying figures that rise up in these next months and years to essentially -- t to be viable competitors and that really hasn't happened. >> rose: negotiations are possible or not possible leading to what end? >> i don't believe negotiations are likely in the short-term. the taliban, you know, they do crazy things but i also think they are fundamentally rational actors, there is no point for them in negotiating right now as u.s. forces are coming home, as the question of the afghan government's strength is in doubt. if they are going to come to the negotiating table i believe it won't be until 2,015 or 16, until u.s. and nato combat forces have left, the taliban can see the relative strength of the afghan government, particularly the afghan army and
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say to themselves, all right, well, our chances of retaking this country like we did in the 1990s are going to be slim, we can hold on to some remote villages but we can't take it all over so we should come to the table or, the fundamental weak financials the afghan security forces and they are going to say to themselves, let's prosecute the war and let's try to -- >> rose: win it all. >> yes to win it all. right now it doesn't make sense for them to do it. >> rose: two quick things, number one how do you assess what their strength today and where is it trending? >> look, they have been beaten back significantly because of the additional troops that have gone in, no doubt about it, more u.s. combat power, especially special operations forces conducting nighttime raids that hammer them but still remain resilient and still see attacks against afghan government targets, civilians and unfortunately also against american forces that are there, so they still retain strength and they are not to be written off by any stretch of the imagination. >> rose: and were we always
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incapable of defeating them if that was a military objective? >> i think defeat was too grand of a term. you were never going to kill every last single taliban, the way these sort of conflicts end is that a number of them decide to either switch sides or they lay down their weapons and just sort of basis any kind of -- >> rose:. >> and you have a small number of bitter enders either you kill or you capture or they remain hold up in some remote parts of the country and you say that's fine it really doesn't pose an existential threat to the state. >> when american military leaders suggest they believe that there is real and significant progress in afghan, developing both on the civil wrap side and the military decide and the security side, that will make the ability of the u.s. to leave which we are committed to do, not as consequential as it may have seemed, are they right? >> yes and no, there has been
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progress achieved on the security front. in the world of reconstruction and development and even in the world of sort of local governance. that is, in my view, undeniable, but have there been enough progress that it can be substantially sustained by the afghans? i don't think so. i think there will be a lot of black sliding but i don't see the taliban rolling ito kabul in the pickups trucks in the 1990s with the same ease. let me underscore that it may happen i just don't think it is going to be as easy. i think it will be messy and chaotic and violent and defy any traditional notions of victory. i think the afghan government and army will be able to hold on to some major cities and lines of communication. the taliban will expand their control of some remote districts and villages and valleys. and then we will see whether they decide to keep fighting or whether some groups decide it is better to sue for peace. but it comes back to me to the
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big question that i have tried to bet the readers t to confront in the book that i have written which is could we have achieved, charlie, this similar messy but maybe good enough for u.s. interests outcome in afghanistan without surging tens of thousands more troops, without pending as much money as we did, without as many lives and limbs lost? on the deserts of afghanistan? >> rose: and what is your answer? >> i think we could have probably gotn to a similar place without doing as much as which have done,. >> rose: the surge that the president decided was wrong? >> i don't think it made sense, yes. >> rose: it was wrong because it wouldn't achieve the objective, it is wrong because it got in the way of other things? >> well, it was wrong because it was premised on a number of things having to happen to work. and let's go through a couple of them. first, president karzai's government had to be a genuine party partner. karzai had to be there with us in lockstep. the problem was he
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didn't believe in our counter insurgency strategy he sees the infiltration of militants from pakistan into afghan as the key problem and that is a problem but the main reason why many afghans at the local level passed their, cast their lot with the taliban is because karzai's government is so corrupt and rapacious and abuse people and shake them down for bribes, and so u.s. commanders and u.s. diplomats rightly saw that they had to fix the government to move forward here. well karzai never bought into that so if you have a sto sovern leader. >> rose: he didn't want to be fixed? >> h he didn't want us fixed and must being around in the industrial lance of afghanistan, we thought we were disrupt ago self regulating system of tribal governance, second pakistan had to crack down on standing areas and they haven't done that in think meaningful way and for counter sure wren situate strategy to work it takes time and takes years and the american people didn't have the patience for it, nor did the president.
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he gave general mcchrystal 30,000 more troops almost all of what mcchrystal wanted but put a deadline on it and if you put a deadline like he did, with the belief, the president's believe it would compel the afghans into action it didn't do that it acted as a crutch, the afghans looked at the american forces coming if and why should we fight? they will be there to do it for us. and also it wasn't long enough to accomplish that. so you look at it from a number of different factors and you said, the surge and the strategy just had fundamental logical flaws to it, and when you look at where it got us, it has improved the situation, but has it improved it must have that we can sort of look and say, afghanistan is on stable footing and we feel a reasonable degree of assurance for it? it is hard to look at it. >> rose: did we lose something when mcchrystal resigned and petraeus came the and petraeus -- >> look, we lost continuity. >> rose: right. >> we also lost -- and i detail
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this in my book, you know, stan mcchrystal by the time he was firedly,, fired, sortly before that began to come to the view you couldn't kill every last taliban. >> rose: you said that. >> you couldn't -- and you did a fascinating interview with him when he was the commander. >> rose: right. >> that you couldn't be et to your sort of traditional notion of victory, you had to have some degree of negotiation, some degree of a peace deal, and in this degree, he and richard holbrook, the late veteran diplomat who was then the state department's point man for afghanistan and pakistan, they were kin drilled spirit on this and they didn't fully agree, but they were getting closer, the problem was, holbrook wasn't listened to by the white house and stan mcchrystal was fired, and so when petraeus came in, and this is a remarkable scene i recount a few months later, holbrook tries to go to petraeus and talked to him about the
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importance of rec stiltion and getting into a vehicle in kabul and says, dave, i would hike to talk to you a little bit about rec stiltion and petraeus says to holbrook, well, richard, that is a 15 second conversation, yes, maybe sometime, but no, not now, and shuts him down. >> rose: and you believe that if holbrook w his way we would be in a much better place because at least negotiations would have taken place and at least what would have happened? >> look, there were no taliban sitting across from a table waiting for an american delegation to show up that would be overstating it but holbrook saw the importance of trying to build to that, trying to work to that end. and in the -- and the truth is, the white house also agreed with it. the problem here was that we scwanld derd the first year of the troop surge with personaly clashes in washington.
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>> rose: between the pam bass, ambassador and military leader shim? although am balances for was a former general. >> and the military leadership, but also, between richard holbrook and the president's national security team. you know, holbrook had this vision of trying to sort of duplicate what he did with the balkans, the architect of the dayton accords. >> rose: yes, he would see it that way wouldn't he? >> so he wanted the grand deal, perhaps that was unreal link and even holbrook acknowledged tt the chances of getting thatort of dayton like deal in afghanistan and pakistan were very slim. but he wanted to try and he believed that is what obama wanted. the problem was obama's national security team form her national security advisor jim jones, people who worked for him saw holbrook and he bow test with sharp elbows who had a thirst for spotlight who would damage his relations with president karzai and the leadership of pakistan, and so they didn't want him to lead this process and so they did everything they
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could to foil him and denied him the use of military airplanes to travel out there, they -- there is one remarkable event when president karzai comes to washington in april of 2010, and there is an oval office meeting that is set up, and some of the president's staffers try to exclude holbrook from this meeting and then the plan is to slip the president's talking points one of them was going to say, everyone in this room represents me has my rust the implication being holbrook who wasn't in the room wasn't the president's man, the scheme was flawed at the las last minute wn the hillary clinton insisted he come in it shows you the degree to which, almost childish degree to which people within the administration were trying to sort of do him in. >> rose: the reason holbrook yes he has a big ego but it is worth enduring that ego in order to benefit from the insight and experience he has and his
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political understanding of the environment. >> well, he was -- he served with u.s. in the vietnam war at age 27, they was youngest member of the american delegation to the paris peace talks aimed at ending the it have familiar war and talked about his role in bringing peace to the balkans, he had more experience with war and peace than anybody else at the upper reaches of the obama administration. >> rose: there is also this, when he was there, you may know this or not know this, i think this is a at a time when -- that the president of the pakastani president was there as well, in washington, it was at the same time karzai was there and the pakastani real estate was there. >> yes. yes, they had visits around the same time in the spring of 2010. >> rose: and they coincided because richard holbrook called me up and said, i think you can do an beautiful with both of them together and they have never been on the television program outside of their own region together. and i once saw hillary clinton later and said, thank you very much, and came to the state department she said thank richard she talked them into
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doing an interview. >> he was always trying to find different angles, trying to push people into doing things that were going to some how make a big change in policy. i mean, people who are close to him remember what -- the american contractor raymond davis got into that incident in pakistan where -- >> rose: cia guy. >> yes. and it dragged on for weeks and weeks and was very ugly. and frayed relations between the two countries. people who worked for holbrook, who are close to him say that, you know, if holbrook had been alive then he would have picked up the phone and called a few people in pakistan and they believed within 48 hours, you know, davis would have been rltsed and put on a jet and taken out of the country. >> rose: what kind of connections did he have to enable him to do that? >> he had everybodies's number on the phone he would call up president sfvment ardari and the head of the pakistan military, but his rolodex extended from the region to new york, to
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elites in washington, and he managed to triangulate and deal with all of those people. >> rose: before i leave you i want to talk about this because it is central to your book, what is the la america. >> it is a remarkable story, carlie that actually begins with the holocaust, in the late 30s, jewish fur traders who were able to flee europe, many of them resettled here in new york and they needed a new source for petals to make coats and hats, they turned to afghanistan for the fur of the newborn persian fat tail sheep and in the late 30s and early 40s afghanistan exported between 1 and 2 million of these pelt as year to the united states. the sale of each one put a few more dollars in the afghan king's treasury, at the end of the second world war afghan was sit okay an windfall that $1 million in gold reserves in the treasury so the after fan king who had been very impressed with what the united statesid during the great depression with the tennessee valley authority
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says said i am going to hire american engineers to try to modernize my country and so he hired the american company that had built the hoover damn and san francisco bay bridge to come to southern afghanistan with the aim of turning the barohn desert among the river in the south to aver didn't agricultural oasis and a bread basket for his country so these engineers came and dug canals many of these same canals far reenls are fighting and dying in today and part of a grand development scheme, we americans think our involvement there began in 9/11 organ with the soviet invasion, as i detail in this book it actually began in the 40s and fifties, and these americans set up for themselves, it wasn't just going to be an agricultural project, they set up for themselves this little town in the middle of the afghan desert, eight square blocks, it had the state your namsuburban style trh manicured green front alleges none of those ubiquitous walls. a high school, where boys and
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girls studied together, a clubhouse where they poured ginobili and tonics and nightly card games and in this slice of americana they thought the afghans would look at this inspired and create it for themselves, the afghans said, that is fine for you, we don't really want that. but they looked at it and said, we have got a name for this place and they started to call it little americ america and obs troop surge unfolded on the very same terrain as this project, and when i went back and i read this history of the american engagement there and that worked and what didn't, and a lot of things didn't. it was a decades honk effort that was very, very troubled. i came away thinking if i only changed the dates and the names i could be writing about today, so i opened the book with this story and fast forward to 2009 because i peel that this history .. it sets the scene and it helps us recognize that we were
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there before and we tried to do a hot of the things that we were doing today, it didn't really work then, and it is not working today. >> rose: but the public works project failed because they turned out tey couldn't support what it wanted to grow as well, and, therefore, it became viable only to fro pop by. >> yes. it was just amazing. the soil was too saline, so the homed for controls wouldn't grow and the american engineers didn't design the canals properly so water poodle on the fields. they fine think came up with a good solution to address this. but they came up with it too late. by the time they came up with it, stove yet tanks were starting to roll in and they couldn't -- they couldn't deploy this very simple solution across the hall mud valley. >> rose: did we make a mistake when the russia troops left not to have left at the same time or should we have done more as charles wilson and other people asked us to do? >> this is a great question.
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remember, when the soviet tanks left, the communist government didn't fall overnight and didn't fall a week later or a month later. it fell two plus years later. after the soviet union collapsed, and after they were unable to continue funding the government in kabul. and that is an imporant lesson for america today. as our combat troops leave, what will our willingness be to provide the necessary financial assistance for the afghan army, the afghan government, the afghan people for humanitarian efforts? and you go back to that great movie charlie wilson's war the last scene in that movie that is the most -- you know the most instructive, when the soviets are defeated and charlie is in a committee room on capitol hill fighting for $1 million for afghan schools and he can't get it and chaie inored afghanistan and got the rise of the taliban, will we in 2014, 15, 16, be willing to provide the necessary
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resources to help sustain the afghan military? it is going to be a lot of money, it is going to be more than we provide israel on an annual basis, but will we americans be willing to do that or will we say it is not worth it and if we do that, what is the consequence of that? and nobody really knows. >> rose: how much money have we spent on after ban and the afghan war in the last ten years? >> oh, boy, if you add the military and reconstruction stuff together, it is probably half trillion dollars. >> rose: half trillion dollars. >> charlie it costs $1 million roughly to keep one sold we are or marine in afghanistan for one year. that means last year, when we had 100,000 troops there it was costing american taxpayers $100 billion. that is an enormous amount of money, you know, we were spending more money -- i am right about some of these remotes parts of southern afghanistan in the book, we were spending more money to keep arines in two little counties
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of afghanistan where there was no electricity and no running water, everybody lived in mud brick homes more to do that than we provided last year to the entire nation of egypt in nonmilitary and military assistance. i mean, it is a remarkable amount of spending and it means that our nation and the economic crisis -- it fore choses our options to do other things. >> rose: excuse me. you saw what ryan crocker is now saying, ought to be the lessons of iraq and afghanistan. do yoagree with him? >> i do. you know, and -- >> rose: we have to understand the culture, we have to understand the people, we have to understand the challenge before we go and put a lot of boots on the ground. >> and implicit in that is, i don't think we ever really understood afghanistan. i write about this early period, we didn't understand it then and though we have been fighting for more than a decade there, we still don't understand, and part of the problem is, is that americans cycle through there, i
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mean, our top commanders, most of them don't spend more than a year there, youkno our embassy staff, most of them are on one year tours they come in and leave over the summer months, as talking to one person that works there, he said every summer it is like somebody pushes a giant reset button on the place, so you don't are that continuity, and we send military units from, you know, one tour there in this part of the country, the next time that brigade goes to the afghanistan and in another part of the country, so nobody builds relationships, and so as a nation, and particularly as the state department, as the pentagon, we just don't get the place. >> rose: the book is called little america, the war within the war for afghanistan, rajiv chandrasekaran, author of imperial life in the emerald city which was about the preen stone in the iraqi war, he has this amazing ability to look at the history of a place and also bring us up to date and find a
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metaphor for what we are, in fact, looking at at the moment. so i thank you for coming. >> it was wait to talk to you carlie. >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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>> funding for charlie rose has been provided by the coca-cola company, supporting this program since 2002. and american express. additional funding provided by these funders. and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia and news and information services worldwide.
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